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Old 03-04-2008, 11:49 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Inferno View Post
Sounds like a classic debate with my uncle. I'll summarize it:

When talking, saliva is airborne and going onto whoever it is you're talking to. If you cough, a whole lot more saliva comes out as well as more bacteria. The mouth is no sanitary place and bacteria love it there. If you cough on your hands then handle food, it's direct contact.

As for the coughing vs talking, that is partially true. You are being exposed to the bacteria/germs while talking. However, when you cough, bacteria from part of the respiratory tract can come up and about. These bacteria will go onto the person/food but some can remain in the mouth, transferred while talking.

"Dry cough"? That's false. Talking and exhaling releases saliva. A cough is by no means an exception. Their mouth may feel dry to them (result from the hypothalamus, etc...) but there still is moisture there.

If you're ill, then there can be a whole lot more of bacteria/germs around that you transfer into the food.

Just as an added fact, if you knew or not, in university, I believe my first year, we made a colony of E.coli and used various cleaners/antibiotics on the cultures to see what would have the most effect on killing it. If memory serves (I'm not planning to sift through my various stacks of lab write-ups), liquid soap was one of the most effective at killing it.

I use this as an arguement with my uncle since E.coli is a) Well-known b) It's not the most pleasent (although there are many other bacteria and viruses far worse) and isn't something you'll have in your mouth unless you're ill.

Think about this scenario. You're at a cafetaria ordering something for lunch. The server is handling food wearing no gloves and scratches their butt then with the other hand blows their nose into it. After that, they ask you what you would want.

The above scenario may seem rather disgusting and it's meant to be. However, consider this:
You're spreading bacteria just like you are if you cough and handle food. If you're in the kitchen, you have liquid dishsoap, which is fairly effective. Or, simply use alcohol rubs. If you are really paranoid, wear a pair of latex gloves and have several with you as a back-up.
Inferno is dead on here and even if the scenarios seemed disgusting, they were real and how a lot of food-borne illness happens. And there have been many studies done on the spread of illness in hospitals. A very large study recently showed that proper handwashing with soap was the most effective way to prevent the spread of germs, superior to hand sanitizer gels and foams. And when rigid handwash practices were put in place in hospitals as a result of this study, hospital acquired illnesses dropped dramatically to almost nil.

I'm not a freak about germs either but I wash my hands many times in the preparation of meals and if I am ill, I wear those cheap plastic food handler gloves and a mask while preparing and serving food at home. It just makes sense to me. Since I'm the mom, if my family gets sick, I have to take care of them.
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Old 03-05-2008, 08:18 AM   #22
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Just to add to what inferno said...The majority of food poisoning does not come from food that was mishandled (keeping at the wrong temp for example), but actually comes from people not washing their hands and transferring nasties to the food through touching it.
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Old 03-05-2008, 09:40 AM   #23
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I work for University of Missouri Extension, and we have a video on this very subject--Public health, Emergency Management, MU Extension--"Why Don't We Do It In Our Sleeves."

It is kinda cute, and very good information. I noticed, the last time I was in the doctor's office, that she coughed into her elbow.
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Old 03-05-2008, 10:06 AM   #24
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When we were in the hospital for the birth of our kids we noticed that in the elevators there were posters advocating coughing into your elbow instead of into your hands.
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Old 03-05-2008, 10:25 AM   #25
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When we were in the hospital for the birth of our kids we noticed that in the elevators there were posters advocating coughing into your elbow instead of into your hands.
I noticed the same big posters in the hospital when my son had surgery - right up there with the immunization posters. It really makes sense and I've taught my kids to cough this way. I mean, how often do you touch someone else's inner elbow?
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Old 03-05-2008, 10:32 AM   #26
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We have taught our daughter to do this as well. She does it more than I do, because it is hard for me to break the habit of doing it into my hand. Luckily for her, she did not yet form that habit.
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Old 03-05-2008, 10:46 AM   #27
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Just to add to what inferno said...The majority of food poisoning does not come from food that was mishandled (keeping at the wrong temp for example), but actually comes from people not washing their hands and transferring nasties to the food through touching it.
I can't agree here, GB, if I'm understanding you correctly

It generally will take both to cause a food poisoning. 1) contamination of the food, in this case by transfer from unclean hands, and 2) sufficient time in the danger zone for microorganisms to grow in sufficient numbers to cause illness. Relatively, small numbers of pathogenic bacteria can be overcome by a normal immune system.

While some viruses associated with food poisoning can be transmitted with very small numbers present, like Norwalk Virus, they would not account for a majority of the cases.

Not trying to change the message...Wash you hands.... but just not wanting the vital role of proper handling and storage of food, of which hand washing is an important part, to be underestimated.
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Old 03-05-2008, 10:51 AM   #28
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I think you may have misunderstood me mozart. What I was trying to say was that when people get food poisoning, it is usually because someone did not wash their hands such as a food handler who goes to the bathroom and does not wash up and then uses those unwashed hands to sprinkle lettuce on your taco.
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Old 03-05-2008, 11:14 AM   #29
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I think you may have misunderstood me mozart. What I was trying to say was that when people get food poisoning, it is usually because someone did not wash their hands such as a food handler who goes to the bathroom and does not wash up and then uses those unwashed hands to sprinkle lettuce on your taco.
My bad. That's why I said "if I understand you correctly

I would agree that poor hand washing and related practices (not waring gloves or using tongs for example) is a bigger issue than food arriving at the store or restaurant already contaminated with something. Of course a lot of it is contaminated with something, but this is often neutralized by proper cooking. It is the handling of cooked foods, and foods that aren't intended to be cooked that cause most of the problems. In that vain, dirty hands is the number one culprit.

Thanks for clarifying.
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Old 03-05-2008, 11:41 AM   #30
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GB's right on about coughing into the bent arm rather than the elbow. And frequent hand washing is a must while you're cooking.
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